Brands Lag Expectations In Travel, Financial Services

Editor's Note: This week, Marketing Daily brings you exclusive coverage of the Brand Keys 2014 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI). Each day, expect a report on key product/services categories from among the 64 surveyed for this year’s study, including automotive, electronics, retail and technology. This installment provides highlights from categories including travel, financial services and beer.

Brand Keys surveyed 32,000 U.S. consumers between the ages of 18 and 65, drawn from the nine U.S. Census regions. The proprietary research technique/statistical analyses have a test/re-test reliability of 0.93, which provides assessments that are generalizable at a 95% confidence level.

Each year, CLEI respondents self-select the product/services categories in which they are consumers, and the brands for which they are customers. Respondents determine which and how many brands make the rankings within a given category each year. Assessments are based on an independently validated technique that identifies the core rational and emotional factors that drive consumers’ “ideal” for each specific category. The rankings in each category reflect how well, on an indexed basis, each brand met or exceeded the “ideal” for its category.

(A free copy of the full CLEI 2014 results can be requested through the Brand Keys site. In addition, short audio and MP3 summaries of key 2014 results and trends are available on the site.)

Brands with highest levels of consumer engagement vis à vis expectations in their respective categories. The percentages indicate the degree to which a brand met expectations versus a consumer-generated, Category-specific Ideal, calculated to be 100%.

This year’s CLEI survey identified 12 categories as having the highest overall consumer expectations and, following in parentheses, the category driver(s) where consumers have the highest expectations including Mutual Funds (Fund Success) and Luxury Hotels (Brand Reputation & 5-star Ratings).

Brands that showed up in their categories for the first time include: USAA and T. Rowe Price, which moved up in their categories based on their abilities to meet customer expectations.

For the Travel Category the expectations have grown 15%, brands have only grown 6%, said Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys, Inc. founder and president. For Financial Services, expectations for the Ideal grew 18%, brand only grew 4%.

“Those are awfully big gaps between what customers expect and what brands are delivering,” Passikoff tells Marketing Daily.

In car rental, Avis led the pack followed by Enterprise/Hertz (tie), Budget, National, and Alamo/Dollar. JetBlue was the top airline followed by Southwest, Delta, U.S. Airways, American and United. The top three luxury hotel brands were Ritz-Carlton, Inter-Continental and Fairmont Hotels.

For all 65 brands tracked in the Financial Service Category, emotional engagement expectations related to “trust and confidence,” “depth of value” and “empowered benefits” exerted the strongest influence on consumer decision-making and engagement with brands, Passikoff says.

Financial services rankings included banks, car insurance, life insurance, credit cards and mutual funds and brokerage firms. In banks, JP Morgan Chase led followed by Citi, US Bancorp, PNC, Wells Fargo and Bank of America.

In car insurance, USAA led the pack followed by Allstate and Progressive (tie), Geico, Nationwide/State Farm (tie), Esurance and Liberty Mutual.

In credit cards, Discover and American Express tied for first followed by Capital One, Chase, Visa, MasterCard, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Barclaycard.

The top life insurance brand is NY Life with Allstate, American General, NW Mutual rounding out the top four. ING/MetLife are tied followed by Prudential, a tie from AXA and The Hartford and finally John Hancock.

USAA led the home insurance category followed by State Farm and NY Life (tie), Allstate, Chubb, MetLife, Farmers, Nationwide, The Heartland, Travelers and Liberty Mutual.

In the Beer Category, Sam Adams and Coors tied for first followed by Michelob, Busch and Corona. Guinness and Heineken then tied and were followed by Budweiser and Miller.

In light beer, Coors Light and Sam Adams Light tied for first followed by Bud Light, Amstel Light, Miller Lite, Michelob Light, Natural Light and Busch Light.

“Armed with a truly engaging brand -- Sam Adams -- Jim Koch turned the Boston Beer Company into the third-largest American-owned brewery, with sales up more than 17%,” Passikoff says. “It made Mr. Koch a billionaire, as sales of his flagship Sam Adams brand helped Boston Beer shares double in the past year, and reached an all-time high in September. Engagement metrics never lie.”

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